Evergreen Branch

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1878 map, including the Evergreen Branch to Greenport
The remnants of the Evergreen Branch crossing Halsey Street in Bushwick.

The Evergreen Branch was a branch of the Long Island Rail Road that ran in Brooklyn, and part of Queens, in New York City. It was inherited as a former segment of the New York and Manhattan Beach Railroad, and ran from Greenpoint, Brooklyn, to what is today Ridgewood, Queens.

History[edit]

The Evergreen Branch can trace its origins to the Glendale and East River Railroad which was incorporated on March 26, 1874,[1][2] to build from Greenpoint, Brooklyn east to Glendale, Queens,[3] and was acquired by Austin Corbin in November 1876, to be integrated into the New York and Manhattan Beach Railroad.[4] The line north from East New York to Jefferson Street was built by the NY&MB under the charter of the Brooklyn and Rockaway Beach Railroad (Canarsie Line),[5][6] which gave its right to construct an extension to Hunter's Point to the NY&MB.[7] The rest from Jefferson Street to Greenpoint was built by the G&ER and leased by the NY&MB.[2] This extension beyond East New York to Greenpoint opened at the beginning of the season on May 16, 1878.[8][9] In 1883, the standard gauge connection from Cooper Avenue Junction to the Montauk Division at Fresh Pond was built and the lines to Manhattan Beach from Cooper Avenue Junction and Bay Ridge were made standard gauge.[10] The Evergreen Branch remained narrow gauge until 1884. During the years 1883–1885 a shuttle ran connecting at Cooper Avenue Junction with every Long Island City train.[10] In 1886, Greenpoint service was abandoned, and supposedly there is no trace of service to the west of South Side Crossing, and a Bushwick shuttle was instituted, which ran through the 1894 season.[10] In 1896–1897 the right of way between Greenpoint and South Side Crossing was abandoned.[10]

Upon the dissolution of the Manhattan Beach Branch in 1924, the line became a freight spur between the Bushwick Branch and Bay Ridge Branch in Brooklyn. Eight blocks of tracks were removed on February 9, 1939. The following crossings were closed on that date: Himrod Street; Stanhope Street; DeKalb Avenue; Hart Street; Suydam Street; Willoughby Avenue and Starr Street.[10] Further dismantling took place between 1957 and 1962, and throughout much of the late-20th Century. In 1965, when New York State purchased the Long Island Rail Road, the Bay Ridge and Evergreen Branches remained part of the Pennsylvania Railroad.[10] Subsequently, they became part of Penn Central, and then Conrail.[10] In 1984, the Long Island Rail Road again took over the Bay Ridge Branch but decided to abandon the Evergreen Branch and its sole consignee.[10]

Description of the branch[edit]

Originally, the Evergreen Branch began at the East River in Greenpoint, with a depot at Oak and West Streets. From there it ran southeast along North 15th Street to Richardson Street then turned east along Richardson to Vandervoort Avenue where it turned southeast. It then crossed Metropolitan Avenue, Grand Street and a portion of Newtown Creek, the South Side RR's Bushwick branch and then crossed over Varick Avenue, continued across Johnson Avenue, and alongside the main tracks was Varick Avenue Yard. Varick Avenue Yard was on the northwest side of Flushing Ave and was a rather substantial yard with a number of team tracks and sidings. It consisted of a passing siding, which allowed access to the 7 team tracks, the house track and 4 tracks stubbing against the Bushwick freight house, which was located along Varick Avenue. Also along the Varick Avenue side of the yard was located the LIRR’s freight shed along with some other warehouses. There was a traveling overhead crane that straddled two shorter sidings paralleling Varick Avenue. There was also a scale track and scale house on the other side of the main, opposite the team tracks. The Varick Avenue yard was removed in 1963 and the LIRR freight houses along Varick Avenue were torn down. The Evergreen Branch then proceeded east between Wyckoff and Irving Avenues. Along this route between Flushing Avenue and Jefferson Street there were some more sidings and factories. The B&QT trolley ran along Flushing Avenue and crossed the Evergreen Branch. There was then a siding between DeKalb Avenue and Stockholm Street. Up until Himrod Street, there were diamond crossing signs, which indicated the presence of the Evergreen Branch to motorists. After Himrod Street, there was an unusual arrangement, in which the gates were all across the tracks, protecting the streets, instead of vice-versa with the crossing gates being across the street to protect the tracks. There was a siding between Grove Street and Menahan Street. Afterwards, the Evergreen Branch crossed under the Myrtle Avenue Elevated. Afterwards there was a siding between Gates and Linden. The arrangement concerning the gates stopped at Palmetto Avenue. At Putnam Avenue was the start of the “Evergreen Yard” at Evergreen freight station, identified as “E-6.” The Evergreen freight office was a small, square block building. The Evergreen Yard consisted of a private siding and two team tracks, stubbing behind the freight office. At Cornelia Street the tracks dipped southward, and then continued to the regular alignment after Cornelia Street. The line continued across Halsey Street, where there was an old B&QT trolley line, and the trolley frogs crossing the LIRR tracks were still visible as of November, 1958. There were some sidings for warehouses and factories at Halsey, Covert and Decatur Streets, and the line then proceeded southeast and connected with the Bay Ridge branch at Cooper Avenue Junction, near the Cemetery of the Evergreens.[11][12][13][14][15]

Origin of the name of the branch[edit]

The Evergreen Branch trace its name, to when map printers applied the name ‘Ridgewood’ to an area larger than that of the town limits, and as a result the tight-knit community changed its name to ‘Evergreen,’ after the large nearby Cemetery of the Evergreens. In 1910, the name Ridgewood was officially bestowed upon the entire area nestled between Glendale and Bushwick.[16]

Acquisition of property along the ROW[edit]

In 2014, there were three applications to acquire property along the former right-of-way of the Evergreen Branch. The three properties are at: 375 Grove Street, which sale was completed; 406 Cornelia Street and 1503 Jefferson Avenue.[17]

Station list[edit]

Miles Name Opened Closed Notes
0[18] Greenpoint May 16, 1878 September 28, 1885
0.56[18] Fifth Street 1878 1879
0.99[18] Humboldt Street May 16, 1878 September 28, 1885
1.75[18] Grand Street May 16, 1878 September 28, 1885
South Side Railroad Crossing May 16, 1878
June 1886
May 25, 1881
1890
Crossing with Bushwick Branch near Varick Avenue
Ridgewood
earlier DeKalb Avenue
July 14, 1878 1894
3.26[18] Myrtle Avenue May 16, 1878 May 1882
3.95[18] Cooper Avenue June 2, 1883 1894 Crossing with Bay Ridge Branch; Also called Cooper Avenue Junction

See also[edit]

References[edit]


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